Nairobi’s cab drivers have again shown utter disregard for the rule of law and exposed themselves to more allegations of having hooligans and criminals among their ranks, when another Uber driver Hesbon Pachety was attacked and his car set on fire yesterday. He sustained serious burns and only barely managed to get out of his car before it burned out. Previously, Uber cars had been stoned and drivers been roughed up and beaten, besides regular intimidation and threats.
Police sources in Kenya’s capital have confirmed that they captured the attackers on CCTV and identified the registration number of the vehicle they used to get away from the scene and vowed to hunt them down and bring them to justice. Said a Nairobi-based tourism source when passing the news: “Imagine regular hotels sending hit squads like that to AirBnB locations. Not one hotel I know of would resort to such criminal acts and yet, Nairobi’s taxi drivers, or sections of them, are ready to commit murder because they see their business threatened by Uber. They are doing themselves no favors, not even their association leaders. They are now seen in the public eye as perpetrators of violence. My recommendation to our clients now is only to use hotel vehicles when going somewhere in the city, for instance to a restaurant and no longer use taxis because of the cloud hanging over those. We can never condone illegal action by taxi driver or their association and they have now crossed a red line. These criminals need to be brought to justice.”
Indeed, there is now a growing anti-taxi sentiment in Nairobi where Uber services, just like AirBnB were a welcomed addition for international travelers and swiftly embraced by locals, too. Launched a year ago, Uber’s clientele has grown in leaps and bounds, prompting the taxi association to issue several threats and more recently an ultimatum to government, which was ignored with prejudice. “If the taxi association cannot stand competition and is unable to modernize their operations and bring it into this century, they have lost the plot. If they cannot embrace technology, and obviously they did not, which gave rise to Uber in the first place, they should get out of business. Many of their taxis are old and badly maintained. I have personally several times seen drivers failing hygiene standards and the inside of the cabs dirty. Shame on them, they are a disgrace to Kenya,” added another source.
According to Nairobi’s police boss, Japhet Koome, the police will leave no stone unturned to track down and arrest the culprits and then charge them with attempted murder which in Kenya attracts long prison terms when convicted.